CHILD sex offenders will be banned from international travel as the Federal Government makes good on a promise to stop Australian paedophiles from terrorising children across the globe.
It is understood Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Justice Minister Michael Keenan will present plans to the coalition party room today to permanently bar Australia’s 20,000 registered child sex offenders from travelling overseas, with legislation likely to go before Parliament by June.
Paedophiles who prey on children overseas can be jailed for up to 20 years on their return to Australia if the offence can be proved, and offenders listed on State and Territory registers are required to detail their international travel plans to the Australian Federal Police.
The AFP’s policy is to share that information with its counterparts in other countries, to give them the chance to bar the entry of potential predators, but it is unclear how often authorities in major child sex tourism destinations, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, have only a patchy record of acting on the information.
Until now Australian law enforcement agencies authorities have needed to make a specific request of the Foreign Minister to cancel passports, or refuse to issue travel documents, and the existing measures have done little to stem the scourge of sex tourism by Australian paedophiles.
At least 780 registered child sex offenders travelled overseas last year, according to evidence given to a Senate committee hearing last week, and child sex tourism remains a multi-billion industry in poverty stricken countries in South East Asia.
It is understood the new laws would prevent the Foreign Affairs Minister of the day from issuing a new passport to a registered child sex offender. The requirement would be mandatory, and not subject to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
While it is believed current passports would not automatically be stripped from holders under the legislation, the new laws would also make in an offence for a registered offender to travel overseas.
The laws are believed to be a world-first, and would put Australia at the forefront of the growing international effort to stop child sex tourism.
The legislation was first flagged last November by Ms Bishop, who said at the time the government would work with Victorian Senator Derryn Hinch to develop the legislation.
The ban would still need the co-operation from WA and other State and Territory authorities that compile and maintain the registers, and Mr Keenan is likely to hit the road to win support for the tough new measures before the laws are introduced.